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BY MAHADEV DESAI
More than 5,000 devotees and visitors from all over South-East thronged the Hindu Temple of Atlanta (HTA) Riverdale, Georgia on crisp sunny morning of Friday January 1st to celebrate a joyous and spiritually suffused 6th Navodaya 2010 festival.
All the devotees in the Balaji and Siva Temples wore a dazzling look in their ornate fineries and colorful garlands. The dedicated and learned priests performed archanas in the Balaji Temple and Siva Temple, throughout the day blessing all the devotees who came to offer their prayers. Just before noon, the Chief Priest Sri Gopal Bhattar performed a ceremony in the auditorium, chanting shlokas and conferring his blessings on the vendors. As the day progressed more devotees arrived inside the temples and after offering prayers, went around visiting and shopping at HTA Gift Shop and also at various booths selling sarees, household appliances and gadgets, jewelry, beads, artwork, devotional music CDs and DVDs. Service booths also kept busy helping visitors with travel bookings or auto insurance. Some prominent not-for-profit Organizations-Art of Living Foundation, Isha Foundation, and Gaudiya Vaishnava Organization had also set up their booths to disseminate information about their Organization and forthcoming events.
Festivals and food go together! The varied menu of South Indian vegetarian splendors like spicy idli sambhar, masala dosas, tamarind or curd rice, upama, boondi ladoos, prepared in the Temple’s kitchen,by Chief cook Ramakrishna,Mrs. Phani Thummala, and volunteers, under the supervision of Food Committee Chairperson ,Dr.Sujatha Reddy and served in the spacious banquet Hall, by volunteers, was relished by all.
The current President Hymavati Mikkilineni enthused,” I am very happy with the massive turnout of devotees today. I wish to thank all the sponsors, trustees, Committee members, vendors, devotees and volunteers for their incalculable support and enthusiasm. My special thanks to one of the trustees, Mrs.Phani Thummala for her tireless services in arranging a rich selection of delectable food items. The Temple Manager Lakshmi Narasimhan and Kusuma Dronavalli too deserve pats on the back for organizing vendor booths and overseeing detailed execution of the entire event. I feel happy that the surplus from food proceeds will be donated to non-profit organizations. I also wish to commend Dr. B.K.Mohan for arranging smooth parking facilities for over 2,000 cars during the event. We are planning special pooja called Maha Lakshmi Koti Kumkuma Archana from May 16 to August 2010, when ten priests will perform Lakshmi Sahasra Namam 100,000 times every day reaching a total of one crore by the end of three months. This year the much needed Yagasala will be constructed, which will accommodate more devotees. Finally, on behalf of the Executive Committee, I wish all a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year.
The festivities continued on Saturday January 2. Devotees and visitors were also treated to a riveting Cultural Program on Sunday.
The Hindu Temple, an iconic landmark, perched upon a hill in Riverdale, Georgia, is well known for its spiritual, cultural, and educational services to the Indian community. The Temple has played a sterling role in enriching the religious diversity and enhancing the multi-cultural image of Georgia.